Manti Te O played this season under a terrible burden. A Mormon linebacker who led his Catholic school's football program back to glory, Te'o was whipsawed between personal tragedies along the way. In the span of six hours in September, as Sports Illustrated told it, Te'o learned first of the death of his grandmother, Annette Santiago, and then of the death of his girlfriend, Lennay Kekua.
Upon receiving the news of the two deaths, Te'o went out and led the Fighting Irish to a 20-3 upset of Michigan State, racking up 12 tackles. It was heartbreaking and inspirational.
That's one of the most inspirational stories ever untill you discover there was no Te o's Girlfriend.
According to a report written by Timothy Burke and Jack Dickey from Deadspin:
Manti Te'o did lose his grandmother this past fall. Annette Santiago died on Sept. 11, 2012, at the age of 72, according to Social Security Administration records in Nexis. But there is no SSA record there of the death of Lennay Marie Kekua, that day or any other
Nor is there any report of a severe auto accident involving a Lennay Kekua. Background checks turn up nothing. The Stanford registrar's office has no record that a Lennay Kekua ever enrolled. There is no record of her birth in the news. Outside of a few Twitter and Instagram accounts, there's no online evidence that Lennay Kekua ever existed.
The photographs identified as Kekua—in online tributes and on TV news reports—are pictures from the social-media accounts of a 22-year-old California woman who is not named Lennay Kekua. She is not a Stanford graduate; she has not been in a severe car accident; and she does not have leukemia. And she has never met Manti Te'o.
Naturally, with such a revelation, many people have questions for Te’o — a lot of questions.
For instance, why did Te’o tell reporters before the Heisman Trophy presentation on December 8 that he “lost both my grandparents and my girlfriend to cancer,” when two days earlier the woman he thought was dead called him on his cellphone?
Why did he tell a Sports Illustrated reporter in October that Kekua came to one of his games then issue a statement this week that he never met her?
Who is now behind the one of the Twitter accounts associated with Lennay Kekua, a woman who apparently never lived, let alone died, in September before Te’o, who called her his girlfriend, played one of the biggest games of the young season?